“How come nobody ever says they were Joe Schmo?”
Crash Davis – Durham Bulls Catcher
I have always loved this conversation between Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner in the movie “Bull Durham”. Sarandon plays Annie Savoy and Costner plays Crash Davis. She teaches part time literature at Alamance Junior College and he is a minor league catcher with the Durham Bulls who exists in a bittersweet space thanks to his being a very good minor league player but not good enough to stick in the majors. They are talking about reincarnation.
I share this video as a segue to the “Fake It Til You Make It.” approach as it relates to sourcing out your next great career opportunity.
Fake it til you make it! For the sake of space..let’s go with the acronym FITYMI moving forward. I must preface the rest of this blog with my admission that I am on the fence as it relates to FITYMI! Sometimes it works and more often than naught, not so much.
There is a devilish nature attached to the whole idea of fooling people, adopting the pretending until you can produce approach. It can make for a great story as long as it works out. If it doesn’t work out, consider it a stark reminder that putting in the work and honing your craft isn’t a bad idea.
Sir Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies) thinks FITYMI is a viable option. Just get in the door and figure things out as you get going! Fact is anytime a “Sir” says something, people tend to listen with a little more interest and I did!
First and foremost, far be it for me to disagree with a guy who has enjoyed the success Sir Richard has enjoyed. In fact, I kind of agree with him. Faking it til you make it makes sense when you are in an “attack the learning curve” frame of mind. I think it could work if you are faking the role of entry level sales associate, data entry assistant or a client services coordinator.
Do not go with the FITYMI model if you are auditioning for the role of trauma surgeon, pilot, astronaut, explosives specialist and any other gig that you can think of that places human life at risk.
The FITYMI strategy has its flaws. Beyond the obvious flaw I just shared, the other fly in the ointment is that those who choose to FITYMI, are often not what one would call a go-getter. Maybe a go-getter in getting a job but not a go-getter in the sense of learning the job. If a candidate is willing to fake their resume..chances are they will fake their effort.
Human beings are creatures of habit. We have the tendency to get excited and race out of the barn like a Kentucky Derby Champion but soon become the workhorse out in the pasture that we actually are. I am reminded of my 13 year old self when I opened my first bank account. I walked out of the bank with $10 in the account with a steely eyed focus on saving my next $1,000,000. Plans changed when I walked into the corner store. My goal of becoming a good little saver did not stand a chance up against my 12 years of habitual candy purchasing. Wanting to be or do something usually requires work.
All successful people work. The clouds did not open up when they were born with trumpets resounding and a higher power declaring them great. They have talent and they worked. They worked really hard and were decisive. Somewhere along the way, they changed their approach to how they pursued success. They had to get beyond the definition of success and focus on the pathway to success. Successful people fall in love with the journey. They turn their gaze away from the trophy and turn their focus on the trials and tribulations that one must endure to get to the trophy.
Like an athlete building muscle memory, when you consistently opt for the “fake it til ya make it” approach, you will soon get used to faking it! Before you know it…the faking becomes the norm and not the exception. Your original destination was the express lane but somehow you got stuck in the collector lane and you are comfortable there.
So, faking it is an option but it only bears value when it is a transitory step toward a greater destination. A step that requires work and an effort that extends beyond adequate.
FITYMI only works if you are intent on getting out of the faking it lane as fast as you can. It works only if it is a layover between where you were and your next destination. No one wants to spend time at Newark International Airport, Kennedy or LaGuardia! They are hubs that lead to greater adventures.
So, how do we avoid the fake it til you make it trap?
What does it mean to you? We are all going to spend our time doing something. Choose to do something that is valuable to you. Then hone your craft. The art of developing your expertise and the energy that surrounds that effort transcends any need to fake it. If you are invested you are a sponge. If you are a fence sitter you are watching life go by.
Game plan. Have a clear and concise exit strategy. Have a game plan that features hard and fast deadlines that will force you to get to the next level. Put some pressure on yourself to compete. Don’t get comfortable.
Be realistic. Set goals that you can reach. Expertise does not come in one fell swoop, it’s incremental and modular in nature. I remember back in grade 3 when I convinced my parents to buy me a geometry set. I vowed I would use every item in the case. I would use both of the set squares, I would protract with the 180° protractor, I would rule the class with the 15 cm ruler, I would never get lost thanks to the metal compass, and so on with the 9 cm pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser and the 10 mm stencil. As expected, I did not use all of them…in fact I barely used any of them. (of note, I had to Google all the items found in a protractor set!)
Change the Acronym: Rather than go with FITYMI…maybe go with another acronym? IIDFIDS – If it doesn’t fit, I don’t sit! If the suit doesn’t fit then don’t wear the suit. Find something that fits. Sometimes, you will wear a suit that doesn’t fit. Do not get comfortable.
There is nothing wrong with moving from one challenge that may not fit you to another that may. Sometimes, you will wear a suit that doesn’t fit. Do not get comfortable. Work hard until it fits or visit a career tailor the get fitted right.
Life offers very few absolutes. There are no guarantees. The most valuable commodity we have is our time. What we do with it will determine our path. Spend it wisely!
Know who you are and who you can become.
Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder, a single dad to three world changers, aspiring author and a former professional athlete.
To contact Ken email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.